Groundworks Dance Theater
recently presented an original work choreographed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett that featured rousing Broadway-style choreography set to the music of the 80s band the Pretenders.
The show wasn't exactly what comes to mind when one thinks of contemporary dance, and audiences loved it. Groundworks General Manager Beth Rutkowski says her organization is using performances like this to reach new audiences in Cleveland.
"There are a lot of people who say, 'I'm not really a modern dance person and modern dance is weird,'" says Rutkowski. "Yet if we're able to get them in the door, they find our work is extremely accessible. It's getting past that barrier."
Connecting diverse, new audiences to Cleveland's rich arts and culture groups is the purpose of Engaging the Future
, an initiative by the Cleveland Foundation to help arts organizations think differently about how to grow their audiences.
"It's about more than just putting butts in seats," says Rutkowski. "We're looking at ways to engage different people and a more diverse audience. Audiences for many arts organizations in Cleveland are getting older and are for the most part white. We want to look at new ways of thinking and share best practices."
Some of the new ideas Groundworks is considering include collaborating with other groups; stressing a more interactive relationship with its audience; offering performances online for younger audiences that want to "self-curate"; hosting evening gatherings of creative individuals, including entrepreneurs, to explore the relationship between art and creativity; and developing a series of videos
called "It's Your Move" that connect dance to regular, everyday body movements.
Engaging the Future recently released a survey
and hopes to glean audience information from it that will help organizations to chart a course in the future.
Source: Beth Rutkowski, Kristin Puch
Writer: Lee Chilcote